Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Hindu Gods - Hanuman Bajrang Bali - Life Lessons & Interpretations

Since I first published my last article on the lessons to be learned from lord Hanuman - Hindu Gods - Hanuman Bajrang Bali interpretation and lessons - a lot of both Hindu and non-Hindu friends and followers have asked me,
aside from the deep philosophical understanding of the true nature of devotion/Bhakti (because most of us already know how Hanuman-Rama relationship helps us visualize the nature of devotee-divine), are there any practical lessons to be learned from the story of lord Hanuman that we can apply to our day to day lives? Casually stated and coming from the people who don't truly understand Hinduism, it boils down to - "What does this monkey god teach us?" For more serious followers (both Hindus and non-Hindus), and for people trying to understand the practical applications of Hindu philosophies, it is an extremely significant question because, in essence, it implicitly asks us - "Is Hinduism just a collection of abstract philosophical ideas or does it teach us something practical that we can actually use in our daily lives?" In this post, I'll try to address this question in the context of the ancient legends associated with Lord Hanuman.

As most of us know, lord Hanuman played a vital role in Valmiki's Ramayana and was instrumental in lord Rama's quest to kill the demon Ravana and bring mata Sita home. But what makes this simple story very interesting is that lord
Hanuman was pretty much just an ordinary vanara/monkey soldier in Sugriva's army. He was not known to have any superhuman powers and there was no conceivable way he could do anything more than you or I can. Yet, he was able to fly across oceans, face the demon lord Ravana himself and uproot entire mountains! So, what happened? How did he accomplish all this? Did lord Rama's request for assistance (or His command, if you will) make all this happen? Why did lord Rama ask Hanuman to do something that a vanar/monkey would never be able to do?

The answer to these questions helps us understand the practical implications of the story of lord Hanuman. As the story goes, lord Hanuman always had hidden but unbounded powers, and the only thing lord Rama's request/command achieved was helping Hanuman realize his own abilities. In other words, lord
Hanuman was always capable of all those feats, he always had powers that rivaled even the Trinity (Shiva, Vishnu, Brahma); but He simply never realized what He was capable of until the need for those powers arose. Also, now we begin to understand that lord Rama did not ask Hanuman to do something that He would not have the ability to do, because the Almighty Rama always knew what Hanuman was truly capable of. And finally, the seemingly impossible tasks assigned to lord Hanuman actually helped Him discover what He was capable of!

These particular points have a very practical implication in our lives, in essence, they imply that - God will not give us a responsibility without the means/power to do it. When we have a troublesome times or seemingly insurmountable difficulties, it might look like we are incapable of resolving the problem, but in those times we always have the ability to get through them as well. If God gives us a problem,
He also gives us the means/power to solve it. One can say that it is a test of our faith, but I would respectfully disagree. I believe, in accordance with Hinduism, that God does not "test" us, we are not in a school! Instead, God gives us problems so that we can discover our own unrealized potential. Just as lord Hanuman realized his potential powers only because He faced a seemingly impossible task, in the same way, we can realize our own potential and refine/improve ourselves by accepting new challenges and believing that God gave us all the means that we need to get through the problems and come out stronger.

In very simplistic terms, for the sake of our fellow Atheists or Agnostic brothers/sisters - It means that we should not back away from life's challenges. We must believe in ourselves, have confidence in our abilities and strive to be successful. Tangentially, I might add that even Atheists/Agnostics/non-Hindus can follow this great philosophy of life. Hinduism just doesn't apply to Hindus, it's a religion and philosophy meant for all of mankind (as opposed to Christianity that applies only to Christians and Islam that applies only to Muslims etc). This is the beauty of Hinduism - you can use the life lessons regardless of your own faith, because as far as Hinduism is concerned everyone is born Hindu and no one can escape the basic principles of life taught by Hinduism no matter what religion he/she chooses later!

My apologies for the slight digression, comparative study of Hinduism and Abrahamic religions
always gets me excited, but let us get back to the topic at hand - Now, some of you may be wondering about your past failures or the current problems that you just can not resolve. There can be incurable sickness or loss of a loved one or any other condition that simply can not be resolved even within a lifetime.
You may ask, why God gave you this problem without the ability to solve it and why don't the above lessons learned from the story of lord Hanuman apply in your particular case. This is a valid question because it helps us distinguish our true life paths and our true selves that the God intended for us from our self-conceived lies/delusions/expectations. Let me also rephrase it for the benefit of non-Hindus and Atheists - This question helps us distinguish reality and our true responsibilities from delusional and unrealistic expectations. Real life examples would be - A husband who has lost his wife might want to bring her back; or a cripple might want his/her limbs back; or an employee might want his/her lost job back; or someone might ask to become taller/prettier/smarter than they currently are (assuming the circumstances just don't allow it presently). This is same as lord Hanuman asking why He has a tail, why can't He be a human instead! The astute readers will immediately observe the frivolous and somewhat misplaced nature of these unrealistic demands.

To help us all understand what distinguishes impossible from possible expectations, let me rephrase - The problem with each of those expectations is our own inability to see the real issue.
Taking the same examples, we can clearly see that the real problem is not that the husband has lost his wife, rather the real problem is that he is lonely and needs his life partner; in the case of the cripple, the real problem is not that he does not a limb, rather the real problem is that he needs to learn how to go about his life with limited mobility; in the case of the employee, the real problem is that he needs to find a job rather than find some particular job that he was at; in the case of the person wanting to become prettier/taller/smarter, the real problem is the lack of self-esteem and confidence in themselves. The basic realization being - it's not about "why me", rather, the lesson to be learned from the story of lord Hanuman is discovering and solving the core problems instead of worrying about superficial details. Once the core problem is solved, superficial issues will go away themselves.

Besides, in many cases, what we think of as a weakness actually turns out to be a strength. For example, lord Hanuman's tail can be considered His weakness because the demons bound Him by His own tail and a tail is generally a fragile and sensitive organ. But lord Hanuman turned this weakness into His strength by setting the demon city Lanka on fire by using that tail itself! This also teaches us that sometimes we have to learn to think outside of the box and turn our weaknesses into our strengths!

I went into a lot of details there for the sake of our atheist/non-Hindu readers, but if we believe in God and His understanding in accordance with Hinduism, we can easily understand this concept simply by the fact that unrealistic expectations exist simply because we're going against the nature! God almighty has created this universe with a fixed set of physical and metaphysical laws and by accepting God in accordance with Hinduism, we're also understanding those laws. These laws can be simple things like - we can't go back in past and we can't bring someone back from dead etc. Sometimes, even the staunch believers though are led astray because of a negative state of mind and they reject the true nature of almighty and their beings simply on account of their ignorance and try to do something that God never intended us to do thus straying from their true paths.

We must always stay grounded in reality and keep our faith (confidence, in case of non-believer readers) and then sometimes we can even achieve the impossible!
The key is to understand the true nature of God (or the physical laws of the universe, if you will) and then work ceaselessly until we succeed. This does not mean that we keep running into the wall to get past it. Sometimes we have to go around the obstacles! For example, lord Hanuman did not kill the sea-demon Surasa when she stopped Him from going to Lanka in search of mata-Sita. Instead, He got past her by using His ingenuity and intelligence. Later, instead of forcing His way inside the palace guarded by demon hoards, He simply let the demons catch Him and then set their palace to fire when they themselves took Him inside as a prisoner! These little stories teach us that we must also learn to see beyond the obvious solutions and, as computer scientists would say - "think outside of the box". But when no ingenious solution was available, He also had to resort to uprooting and then carrying a whole mountain, but He was able to do so because He was doing God's work and again if God has assigned you a task - then He has also given you the power to do it. When you're following God, you simply CAN NOT FAIL. For those who do not believe in God and Hinduism, it can be rephrased as - When you're doing your rightful duty, when you're doing something because it's your responsibility that must be done by you, then you have the means to succeed within you; all you need is faith in yourself and 100% application of all skills that you have, and you will succeed!

Coming back to the parallels in the legend of lord Hanuman - Any other vanar/human would've given up saying he just couldn't. After all, how can one lift mountains and fly across oceans! But lord Hanuman did not lose faith, accepted his duty and took the first step towards the path that Lord Rama had chosen for him and soon all His troubles melted away.
The point here is that lord Hanuman realized his true powers only because He chose to do the difficult task instead of saying he doesn't know how to do it and backing off. Similarly we must not be afraid and lose confidence just because life is difficult sometimes, we must fight on and have the faith in God and we'll find that as soon as we take that first step, our troubles will melt away because of our new understanding of our strength. Also, we might not gain the abilities to lift mountains and cross oceans quite literally, but we will gain whatever means are necessary to get the job done - it could be help from someone, it could be our new understanding of the problem or it could simply be an idea that makes all the difference - the key here is to not lose our confidence and our faith in almighty and keep trying until we see the solution. This is how so many discoveries/inventions have been made - people fail but they don't give up, their passion for solving the problem doesn't die out and they keep trying until they finally succeed.

And finally, the last point that I'd like to make is - Some readers might ask "If God gave us the powers to solve our problems, then why does it take such huge effort sometimes?" In the context of the story if lord Hanuman, this question becomes - "Why did lord Hanuman have to wait to realize his powers?" Going back to the legend, we immediately see the answer - It's not like we will succeed simply because of our faith, no, we will succeed when we're ready for it, we'll succeed when we've learned the lessons that we were supposed to learn from that obstacle. Lord Hanuman did not initially succeed in His endeavors either, in fact even after realizing His powers, he faced insurmountable difficulties. He was threatened to be imprisoned forever by the the demon, He was captured in Ashoka vana and He was taken to the demon lord Ravana, but he found creative ways to win against all odds. This is another example of being able to see our full potential by facing difficulties.
This is what modern psychologists have now "discovered" what we Hindus have known for thousands of years - "Facing your fears". You will not know what you are capable of until you face life and the problems that life presents. The very act of striving to solve the problems helps you improve yourself and helps you see the truth. This act of fighting the good fight and not giving up is our Karma and problems exist simply so that we can improve ourselves. These are some of the biggest practical life lesson to be learned from the legend of Lord Hanuman. Jai Shree Ram!

To understand the deep philosophical interpretation of lord Hanuman, click - Hindu Gods - Hanuman Bajrang Bali interpretation and lessons

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Is Jesus Christ derived from Lord Krishna?


Have you every noticed the amazingly coincidental similarity between these two names - Jesus Christ and Lord Krishna - and asked yourselves, why the names of two major religious figures in two major religious are exactly the same? Have you every looked at the evolution of religions and wondered if it's possible that Christianity is actually derived from Hinduism (partly the story of Lord Krishna)? Well, you're not the only one! Many leading experts believe that not only the name Jesus Christ is a derivative of Lord Krishna, but also, the religion of Christianity might be partially and fully derived from Hinduism!

Once we start comparing Christianity and the teachings of Christ with the life and teaching of Lord Krishna (and Hinduism in general), we immediately start seeing glaring similarities in the two. It would be naive to assume that these similarities are purely coincidental/circumstantial and that Christianity evolved all by itself to have the name of it's main deity to be exactly the same as one of the Trinity in Hinduism, among other obvious similarities!

Let's analyze some of these similarities -

Similarities between Krishna's father Vasudev and Christ's father Joseph - Joseph had eleven brothers (in Matthew's genealogy), meaning they were all 12 brothers. The name "Vasudev" is actually a part of the famous Hindu "12 syllable mantra". Now, this one similarity in numbers might be disregarded by Christian skeptics as a coincidence, but when we start looking deeper into different versions of Bible (yes, Bible has many versions and sometimes contradictory stories), we find that this number 12 is repeated again and again in the life of Jesus. For example, the last time we see Joseph in any of the gospels is also when Jesus was 12 years old (this is found in the story of passover visit to the temple in Luke). Matthew's genealogy also is organized into three tesseradecads and the last of those connects Joseph to Zerubbabel through 12 generations (excluding Joseph because he is a descendent), and we note that this number 12 shows up all over again. Many experts believe that these changes to genealogy are deliberate and there are plenty of contradictions regarding both Joseph and Jesus's genealogy, but one thing that always shows up is this number 12! In Hinduism though there are no contradictions at all and Vasudev always has been associated with the 12 syllable mantra, this has also lead to the use of number 12 in various social rituals as well without any contradictions/confusions. But in Christianity, it's seems as if many attempts have been made to fit this number 12 in relation to Joseph/Jesus at various places over time as Bible evolved from the earliest old testament to today's version. Also, the fact that Joseph is supposedly added in the gospels of Matthew and Luke but not in the early epistles of Paul, has interested many scholars because it shows that the exchange of knowledge (number 12 for example), happened from Hinduism to Christianity and not the other way round. Finally, everyone knows that Jesus dined with 12 apostles in the last supper, which again is intriguing when we see it in terms of so many other such seemingly unrelated Christian stories throughout different versions of Bible. But why were early Christian scholars trying to introduce this number? Where did they learn about this number from? The only answer that prominent experts would agree on is that it originated in Hinduism.Now I ask any Chritian skeptics, do you still disagree? How can you explain this uncanny similarity between the mortal fathers of both Krishna and Jesus?? It's clear as a day that the early Christians took Hinduism and the legends of Lord Krishna and distorted it into their Bible in multiple stories over time.

Krishna means "of darker color" and Christ means "covered in dark/olive oil" - Now, this one is obviously almost exactly the same and makes even the most skeptic Christians wonder how can even the names have exactly the same meaning! Some Christian skeptics have gone on to claim that Christ doesn't mean dark and rather, it means "anointed", which is a valid point because "anointed" indeed is one of the old translations of the word "Christ". But then we ask the simple question: How would an "anointed" person look like? Would he look somewhat discolored? Would he look darker? The answer to these questions is a resounding yes! Just think about it for a second, if I cover myself with any anointments, would the color of my skin change to darker? Yes, it would. If someone is still skeptic, we went deeper into the Hebrew language and found that the word "Chrism" actually refers to anointment by Olive oil! A person covered with olive oil will certainly look darker and can be thought of as "of darker color" or in other words - "Krishna"! The similarity in both the name Krishna and Christ but also the very meaning of the names - "Dark color" and "Covered with dark (Olive) oil" - are uncanny and can't be refuted. It's not hard to surmise that the early Christians were aware of the name "Krishna" and it's meaning and significance and they modeled the name "Christ" exactly after "Krishna" both in the meaning and the intent.

Both Christ and Krishna were known to be threatened by the local ruler when they were young. Both have very similar stories - In Krishna's case, it was Kansa (also known as Kamsa) who wanted to kill him. He tried to imprison Krishna's parents but they were able to flee and survive in time. Surprisingly, Jesus Christ has a very similar story as well in which the evil king Herod actually issued a royal decree to warrant Christ's death. Further, Kansa killed all offsprings of Devaki trying to ensure that Lord Krishna would also die as one of the children; this same story also shows up in Bible as the story of the Massacre of Innocents in Matthew where King Herod ordered that all young children in Bethlehem be killed to ensure Jesus' death. Also, just as in the case of Lord Krishna, Christ's parents (Mary and Joseph) survived in a very similar fashion. Lord Krishna grew up in Vrindavan hidden away from Kansa while Jesus grew up in Egypt in hiding from Herod. Since the stories are so surprisingly similar, it's not difficult to see why the Christian version might be derived from then existing Hindu version.

Both Christ and Krishna were divine beings / "sons of God" walking on the earth as mortals - This one is obvious but extremely important because of the fact that Christ is not depicted as an angel or a jinni or some other supernatural creature in the Bible! Instead, Christ is considered the Son of God Himself! This is intriguing because Christian myths are full of all manners of supernatural/divine creatures sent by God to earth for various purposes; but why ONLY Christ is the son of God? Why are not all the angels also sons of God? The answer becomes obvious when we draw parallels with Hinduism: Lord Krishna is an Avatar of Lord Vishnu. This is why He is not same as minor gods, pretas and other creatures. Lord Krishna is a conscious manifestation of God Himself. Now if Christ were to come from Krishna, it's logical to assume that the early Christians took the Hindu story of Lord Krishna and transformed it into their own versions/interpretations, but the main details like being Son/Avatar of God stayed the same.

Both Christ and Krishna clearly state that the only way to salvation is through them - Lord Krishna, in Bhagwat Geeta, states that Moksha is attained by those who completely surrender to Him and Him alone. Those who do not surrender to Lord Krishna and rather worship false gods will not attain Moksha/Salvation/Nirvana. In Bible, Jesus Christ again asserts, in exactly the same fashion, that the only real way of attaining salvation is by accepting Jesus as your lord and savior! Please also note that this is a somewhat unique case because it doesn't apply to other Abrahamic religions. For example, Mohammed, in Islamic traditions, doesn't claim that salvation can be attained only by accepting Mohammed as our lord and savior. Only Jesus claims, exactly the same as Lord Krishna does, that we must accept Him as the lord and savior to attain true salvation. The similarities are again obvious!

Similarities between Christ's Cross and Lord Krishna's Maharoopa/Vishwaroopa - Now this one would require atleast one full book to fully analyze as the philosophical and religious implications of both are truly immense. I'll probably cover it more completely in later articles but here let me briefly mention that the Cross signifies Christ's willingness to accept all the sins/pains in the world. In other words, Cross implies that the results of all the actions of humans in the world go to the Christ. This is exactly the same as what Lord Krishna implies in the Maharoopa when he says that all results of all actions of all beings go to him. This is just one similarity between the Cross and Maharoopa, but the readers would certainly see more as they look deeper.

So we see that the similarities between Jesus Christ and Lord Krishna, and consequently Christianity and Hinduism, are unmistakable from linguistics, philosophical, religious, historical and mythical perspectives! There are hundreds of more similarities that clearly prove that Christianity is simply a distorted or perhaps a misinterpreted version of a facet of Hinduism!

To learn more about the birth of Christianity from Hinduism, click - Hindu Gods - Shiva Halahal origin of Jesus in Christianity